PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – In the wake of the second suicide of a Philadelphia firefighter this year, the president of the Firefighters’ Union says the time has come to add additional resources to make sure uniformed personnel understand there is another alternative to cope with the tremendous stress they feel.
Local 22 President Bill Gault says there is a well-qualified Employee Assistance Program in place, but firefighters are reluctant to use it for two reasons: because they are afraid it will affect their job security and, “It’s very hard for a firefighter or medic to call somebody. We are taught from day one to suck it up. Our war vets right now are showing us the stuff we leave inside only grows and has to be taken care of and I just want them to have another avenue.”
Gault says suicide is not just a fire fighter problem, “I noticed the police, they had five (suicides) last year.”
Gault is considering the development of a 1-800 number staffed with professionals not affiliated in any way with the Fire Department or Local 22, so uniformed personnel can be assured of complete confidentiality.
Reported by Michelle Durham, KYW Newsradio 1060